The first presidential debate was a bitter battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate. AP photo.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate. AP photo.

Hempstead, N.Y. – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unloaded on each other Monday in the first presidential debate, clashing from the start of the much-anticipated showdown after months of sniping and taunting each other on the campaign trail.

With a spate of new polls showing the race is as close as ever, Clinton took the offensive early, accusing the Republican of “a long record of engaging in racist behavior” and assailing his economic plan as “Trumped-up trickle down policy.” She also used the spotlight to suggest Trump is “hiding” a secret in his refusal to release personal tax returns.

Like a coiled spring, Trump responded with a string of comebacks. He depicted her as a “typical politician” with a string of bad decisions that led to troubling trade deals and forced manufacturers in Michigan, Ohio and other hard-hit states to hemorrhage jobs overseas.

“You’ve been doing this for 30 years, why are you just starting to look at solutions now?” he said, turning to Clinton: “I will bring back jobs; you can’t bring back jobs.”

More: Trump and Clinton take the gloves off

The two squabbled throughout the 90-minute debate over who could best marshal the nation’s economic and military might and which candidate makes the best fit in the White House. Trump declared Clinton “wrong” several times throughout the debate, while she could be heard sighing in the microphone.

They were competing for the support of undecided voters torn between the unpredictable New York businessman vowing to upend Washington and a veteran politician who remains deeply unlikable to the general public after a quarter-century in the national glare.

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump differ, bicker on race

Libertarians unleash the sass as Gary Johnson watches debate from afar

Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton: I’ll release my tax returns if you publish your deleted emails

Kasim Reed gives Hillary Clinton props for ‘Trumped-up’ shot

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